For the third consecutive season, the Trinity Western Spartans proved to be the Marauders kryptonite on the national stage, as the Canada West champions and top seeds knocked McMaster out of U SPORTS title contention with a four-set semifinal decision Saturday.
Set scores were 23-25, 25-14, 25-17 and 25-21 for the Spartans, who return to the national final for the third consecutive season. McMaster, meanwhile, will need to get past the UBC Thunderbirds in Sunday’s bronze medal match if they are to continue their streak of medal-winning performances on the national stage. That match is slated to get underway at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.
In his final match as a Marauder, Jayson McCarthy was the pace setter offensively, with a team-high total of 15 points, including 14 kills and one solo block. Outside Brandon Koppers matched his teammate with 14 kills, while Danny Demyanenko, who was also playing in his final match as a Marauder, cracked double digits with 10 poings, including three blocks.
Newly-crowned U SPORTS Player of the Year Ryan Sclater led the way for the Canada West champions, hitting 44 per cent and killing 19 of 34 attempts while adding three block assists.
The opening set signalled the quality that the match would possess throughout, as the Marauders and Spartans were nearly inseparable from the first serve to the whistling of its final point. McCarthy successfully rolled into space to create breathing room for Mac at the technical timeout, as the Marauders led 16-14, but momentum continued to swing as the teams approached the finish line.
McMaster was forced to call time with Trinity Western storming back late on, but regrouped to seal the first and draw first blood overall when Koppers wiped wide off the block for 25-23.
Unfazed by the early setback, the Spartans proceeded to win five of the first six points out of the gate in the second set, and send the Marauders to an early timeout. It was all the Ontario team could do to stay within striking distance, and they trailed by five at the technical timeout. Another hot run of form from the Spartans put the set beyond doubt, as they won nine of the next 12 points out of the break, levelling the match when Blake Scheerhoorn killed for 25-14.
Once again, Trinity Western began strongly in the third, and, having built a lead, were loathe to give it away. Trouble in the blocking pattern for the Marauders saw the Spartans take advantage of a few one-on-one situations ahead of the technical timeout, where they led 16-10. Much as they did in the second, the Spartans kept their foot on the gas down the stretch, and saw out the third to take the overall lead when Sclater wiped long off the block for 25-17.
Engineering a fightback of their own, the Marauders began the brighter of the two sides in the fourth set, and forced a timeout from the Spartans leading 14-11 after an ace. Despite Trinity Western’s work to close the gap, Mac took a 16-14 lead into the technical after a successful wipe from McCarthy.
A fifth set was looking like a distinct possibility when the Spartans once again ratcheted up their level late in the fourth to seal the result. Tying and then overtaking McMaster at 20, Trinity Western won the set in short order when Sclater again tooled the block for 25-21.
Source: Fraser Caldwell